Pamela and Brian Sexton asked if they could be interviewed together for their Forever Young profile, but they needn’t have. The synergy and love between these two people, who met at age 16, is the stuff of fairy tales and to treat them as anything other than a team would seem somehow absurd.
Brian did National Service with Pamela’s brother, which is how they met and they have been married for the 61 years since. This is the 5th year that they have been involved with the Forever Young choir, although Pamela was unable to take part last year owing to health issues. During this time she insisted that Brian continue to be in the choir, which he did, and now, Pamela has sung her way back to good health and is looking forward to sharing the Ulumbarra stage with her husband and choir friends at this year’s concert.
Between them, Pamela and Brian have an abundance of experience in the Performing Arts.
“I grew up in England surrounded by music,” said Brian.
“Our family gathered around the piano often, and through my school, I was a boy Soprano at Albert Hall.
“I’m a ten pound Pom and came to Australia in 1948 as a teenager and have done a lot of singing since, especially since our three boys have grown up and flown the coup” he said.
Brian has performed in a huge number of musicals, choirs and bands, especially in Bendigo, since 1994. He was with the Blue Note Jazz Singers for 6 years (with Pamela as a roadie!) performing at events all around Bendigo and has done a number of musicals including Fiddler on the Roof, Les Miserable and Cinderella. Pamela appeared in many of these shows with Brian.
“Joining the Forever Young choir has given me a focus for my retirement but it was a pretty easy sell given that I was already so immersed in music and understand the benefits of singing.
“It helps to keep the brain moving and the Rock and Roll repertoire of the choir is new to me so it’s really healthy to have to learn new lyrics in a completely new genre,” he said.
Pamela concurs but adds that the choir is also about friendship.
“Just this morning a group of us were comparing notes on how forgetful we are and I felt so reassured knowing I’m not the only one constantly forgetting where I’ve put things!
“It’s wonderful to be a part of something that normalises our human frailties,” she said.
Pamela has her own impressive list of performing and backstage achievements.
“When Brian performed in Les Miserable in 2001, I was in charge of costuming which involved overseeing 85 costumes and making many of them,” she said.
“I did dancing for many years, having taken up ballet at age 4 and I developed the first end of year concert for Laanecoorie Primary School.
“I had been working at the one-teacher school assisting with reading. At that time, the end of year concert consisted of the students singing some songs accompanied by one lonely guitar.
“I offered to develop something a bit more challenging for the children and we put on a wonderful pantomime, which I wrote, based on the story of a little girl dreaming about the toys in her toy box coming to life,” she said.
Pamela describes the Forever Young Choir Director, Laura Dussuljee, as a “magnificent woman”.
“We feel totally embraced by this choir. From the Headmaster down, including teachers and students, we feel welcomed,” she said.
The gift of music has at least in part, translated to Pamela and Brian’s children with one of them running a Karaoke business near Newcastle in NSW. With parents this devoted to the joys of singing, it is easy to see why it might catch on.